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In the News 08.07.15 : Today’s Articles of Interest from around the Internets

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In the News 08.07.15 : Today’s Articles of Interest from around the Internets
Photo by Peony Lim

The incident was small, but Jason Box doesn’t want to talk about it. He’s been skittish about the media since it happened. This was last summer, as he was reading the cheery blog posts transmitted by the chief scientist on the Swedish icebreaker Oden, which was exploring the Arctic for an international expedition led by Stockholm University. “Our first observations of elevated methane levels, about ten times higher than in background seawater, were documented . . . we discovered over 100 new methane seep sites…. The weather Gods are still on our side as we steam through a now ice-free Laptev Sea….”

Read the rest of this article at Esquire

BE A HERO OR DIE TRYING

In the last 10 or so years of its existence, wingsuit BASE jumping has garnered a reputation for being the deadliest, most dangerous sport in the world. You’re 50 times more likely to die BASE jumping than skydiving, according to one 2007 report that looked at one BASE jumping location in Norway.

The only exposure most of us have to BASE jumping is through YouTube videos of GoPro footage. The latest spectacle, published last week, features a next-level stunt by Uli Emanuele, a 29-year-old Italian dishwasher, who has spent the past four years living in the Lauterbrunnen valley of Switzerland, considered a mecca for BASE jumping and wingsuit proximity flying. Wingsuit proximity flying is essentially buzzing towers, threading needles, or getting dangerously close to anything while flying a wingsuit. Flying closer to terrain heightens the sensation of speed; hence, proximity flying is like crack for the speed junkie.

Read the rest of this article at Vice Sports

It’s strange, when you think about it, that we spend close to a third of our lives asleep. Why do we do it? While we’re sleeping, we’re vulnerable—and, at least on the outside, supremely unproductive. In a 1719 sermon, “Vigilius, or, The Awakener,” Cotton Mather called an excess of sleep “sinful” and lamented that we often sleep when we should be working. Benjamin Franklinechoed the sentiment in “Poor Richard’s Almanack,” when he quipped that “there’ll be sleeping enough in the grave.” For a long time, sleep’s apparent uselessness amused even the scientists who studied it. The Harvard sleep researcher Robert Stickgold has recalled his former collaborator J. Allan Hobson joking that the only known function of sleep was to cure sleepiness. In a 2006 review of the explanations researchers had proposed for sleep, Marcos Frank, a neuroscientist then working at the University of Pennsylvania (he is now at WSU Spokane) concluded that the evidence for sleep’s putative effects on cognition was “weak or equivocal.”

Read the rest of this article at The New Yorker

Perhaps it’s fundamentally human both to be awed by the things we look up to and to pass over those we look down on. If so, it’s a tendency that has repeatedly frustrated human progress. Half a century after Galileo looked into his “inverted telescope,” the pioneers of microscopy Antonie van Leeuwenhoek and Robert Hooke revealed that a Lilliputian universe existed all around and even inside us. But neither of them had students, and their researches ended in another false dawn for microscopy. It was not until the middle of the nineteenth century, when German manufacturers began producing superior instruments, that the discovery of the very small began to alter science in fundamental ways.

Read the rest of this article at The New York Review Of Books

Peter Thiel, co-founder of PayPal, venture investor, and founder of the Thiel Foundation, examines the dynamics of worship and blame that create both kings and outcasts — all the way from archaic societies to the futuristic high technology industry.

team_peter

PayPal’s founding team was six people. Four of them were born outside of the United States. Five of them were 23 or younger. Four of them built bombs when they were in high school. (Your lecturer was not among them.) Two of these bombmakers did so in communist countries: Max in the Soviet Union, Yu Pan in China. This was not what people normally did in those countries at that time.

The eccentricity didn’t stop there. Russ grew up in a trailer park and managed to escape to the one math and science magnet school in Illinois. Luke and Max had started crazy ventures at Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Max liked to talk about his crazy attributes (he claimed/claims to have 3 kidneys), perhaps even a little too much. His came to the U.S. as sort of a refugee weeks after the Soviet Union collapsed but before other countries were formed. So he liked to say that he was a citizen of no country. It made for incredibly complicated travel issues. Everybody decided that he couldn’t leave the country, since it wasn’t clear that he could get back in if he did.

Ken was somewhat more on the rational side of things. But then again, he took a 66% pay cut to come do PayPal instead of going into investment banking after graduating from Stanford. So there’s that.

One could go on and on with this. The main question is whether there is a connection—and if so what kind—between being a founder and having extreme traits.

Read the rest of this article at Imitatio

P.S. previous articles & more by P.F.M.